Is the menopause making you age faster? Women often comment that going through the menopause makes them feel like they have aged 10 years. Unfortunately, the latest scientific research now shows that this is true, with menopause being shown to increase biological age – the rate at which your cells are aging inside. But what is actually causing this and how can it be slowed?
Biological Age: the rate at which your cells are aging
Your chronological age is simply how many years have passed since your birth. This number will continue to increase over time, and you have no control over it. On the other hand, your biological age is the rate at which your cells are aging inside, how well are they functioning and how much damage they have accumulated. Therefore, your biological age is arguably more important than your chronological age when it comes to health. Surprisingly, your biological age can be higher or lower than your chronological age. For example, while your chronological age may be 35, your cells may be functioning like those of someone aged 40!
Menopause Increases Biological Age
Recent studies have measured the impact of menopause on the biological age of women. One study found that during the transition from perimenopause to menopause a women’s biological age can increase by 9 years in just 6 months, indicating the importance of hormones in regulating aging. Another study of 2000 women found that their rate of biological aging doubled during menopause, with some women experiencing a biological age increase of 20 years during this period.
Menopause occurs when the body stops producing key hormones specifically estrogen and progesterone. Whilst these were previously thought of as just sex hormones, they are now known to be vital for the optimal function of many body systems important for healthy aging including the mitochondria, brain and immune system. This means the decline of these hormones during menopause can cause a wide variety of symptoms and an increase in biological age.
For example, the role of estrogen in regulating immune function means that menopause contributes to rising levels of inflammation in the body. This rise in chronic inflammation termed ‘inflammaging’ is a key driver of the cellular aging process. Inflammation accelerates aging by activating various pro-aging pathways and can be damaging to tissues.
Lifestyle factors can reduce your biological age
Research shows that genetics only has a small influence on aging, accounting for around 20%, with the remaining 80% being determined by lifestyle factors. This means your daily habits and routines have a huge influence on how well you will age.
The promising news is that unlike chronological age, your biological age is reversible. Lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise, sleep and supplements have been shown to positively impact your biological age.
Exercise is one the best-known tools for aging well. It positively impacts a multitude of biological systems and studies show that exercise decreases biological age and reduces chronic inflammation.
Diet can also decrease inflammation and biological age. Of importance is a diet that supports gut health, because around 60-70% of your immune system resides in your gut. Therefore, by having a diverse gut microbiome you can reduce inflammation across the whole body. Studies show that including fermented food such as kimchi, kombucha, and kefir in your diet and aiming to eat 30 different plants each week, can support your gut health and reduce your biological age.
Sleep is also important for both physical and mental health. Research shows that sleep deprivation can accelerate biological age. This is because a lack of sleep increases the pro-aging inflammatory pathways. Sleep-wake cycles are regulated by your circadian rhythm which is known to become disrupted with age. Working to optimise your circadian rhythm by getting morning sunlight, reducing exposure to screens before bed and not eating a late dinner can all help improve sleep quality.
NAD+ reverses Biological Age
NAD+ is a molecule found in every cell that is critical for cellular energy production and repair. It has been found to decline with age and this has been linked to increased biological age. Research shows that increasing your cellular NAD+ levels is a promising strategy to promote healthy aging and reduce biological age. Interestingly, a lot of lifestyle habits that positively impact aging such as exercising, fasting and sleep are known to exert their beneficial effects by increasing cellular NAD+ levels.
Your NAD+ levels can also be improved using NAD+ supplements such as Nuchido TIME+. In our clinical study Nuchido TIME+ was found to reduce biological age by an average of 1.26 years after 28 days of supplementation.
While menopause may cause a variety of symptoms and increase your rate of aging, the positive news is that there are many things you can implement into your daily routine to combat this. Working to reduce inflammation with diet, exercise, sleep and NAD+ supplements can all help you positively transition through the menopause.